Equivalence of Home and Away Status

The major criticism that can be levelled at the Test Cricket League is that it takes no account of home or away status.  As only the most recent series result between teams is utilised much of the time, it may be argued that at certain times one team may benefit from a more advantageous combination of home and away fixtures than another.  For example, England traditionally struggle in the Subcontinent, so one may expect them to fare better at times when only their home fixtures against Subcontinental sides are being taken into account.

I would respond to this criticism with three main counterarguments:

1) This is precisely the situation that holds in the Ashes, where the status of the trophy is entirely independent of home advantage.  For example, England’s 2005 Ashes win at home was entirely relegated to history when Australia won back the Urn in 2006-07 in Australia.
2) If a team win a home series then they only need a draw in the corresponding away series to retain the trophy.  So, although away series are in theory a tougher proposition, a team who win their home series will not necessarily need to win away in order to maintain their place in the rankings.
3) Generally speaking, most combinations of home and away fixtures should overall prove roughly as advantageous as each other, with an advantage in one series being cancelled out by a disadvantage in another.  Occasionally, one team may temporarily have a more favourable run of fixtures than a rival, but I firmly believe that the overall benefits of the Test Cricket League make this tolerable.

Back-to-Back Series

When two series are played back to back, it may be deemed unfair that in many cases the result of the first series would be almost immediately overridden by the result of the second.  I agree, and my solution would be to impose a minimum gap of one calendar year between series involving the same two teams.  The stakes are always going to be higher when the opportunity to avenge a series defeat is not immediate.

Draws Can Beat Wins

Some may consider it unfair that a team that retains several trophies through draws may be ranked ahead of a team who has won more series outright.  My answer to this would be that the team in possession of the trophy knows at the onset of a series that a draw will suffice to retain it, and if they go on to get the draw that they require then they are wholly entitled to the full point that they receive in the rankings table.  It should be added that the number of outright wins is used as a criterion in deciding ties, so there is still an incentive to win rather than draw.

Long Intervals Between Series

It may be felt to be unfair that a result from several seasons past may be used to decide the current rankings.  Moreover, in some cases – for example India v Pakistan – there may little prospect of a series taking place at all in the near future.  This is a valid concern, and I would consider a system whereby both teams are each given half a point if a gap of more than five or perhaps six years has elapsed since the last series and there is little chance of the two teams meeting.  Hopefully, in situations unrelated to politics, this problem could be largely averted by appropriate scheduling.

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